THEOSOPHY, Vol. 52, No. 1, November, 1963
(Pages 15-17; Size: 9K)
[Article number (13) in this Department]
I detect in Theosophists a tendency to retreat behind philosophical generalities whenever crucial matters of current debate arise. Yet our daily living is made of choices which involve specifics. We live in history, not outside it, and to say that choices made by nations or factions within nations are simply "Karma" seems to me to beg all questions of immediacy.
Recently, in a Theosophical discussion group, American entry into World War II was mentioned -- with reference to the then President of the United States, Franklin D. Roosevelt. Now, presidents are obviously political figures, as well as whatever else they may be, and implicit criticism of any course of action taken by a president usually awakens counteractive partisanships. It is clear that such arguments are definitely "side-issues" from the standpoint of Theosophical philosophy, but it also appears unnatural to exclude, on principle, any subject from the area of Theosophical discussion. Many Theosophists, I think, have been frustrated by this sort of impasse. Any suggestions?
This is not an attempt to beg a good question, but there are times in the lives of all men, even incipient sages, when the turn from specifics to philosophical generalities is an "advance" rather than a "retreat." It is true that a generality, no matter how ideally constructed or based, does not furnish the resolution of an issue. But if it becomes a focal point for reflection, a resolution may take place in the mind of the individual. For instance, it is almost trite to say that no one ever resolves anyone else's mind for him, yet it is perennially necessary to reaffirm this truth.
Partisan argument, particularly of the religious or political variety, is typically motivated by a desire to justify or a desire to convert -- and neither desire, no matter how craftily implemented, can be constructive except by unlikely coincidence. The First Object of the Theosophical Society meant to provide a platform which would encourage impartiality respecting diverse views, regardless of religious or organizational background. But the occult intent behind the formulation of this First Object, at least in the mind of H. P. Blavatsky, was clearly to encourage the realization that there is One Higher Self in all men. In her article, "Our Three Objects," H.P.B. stated that all real progress towards "brotherhood" to which the Society could lay claim was due to various degrees of realization of the Higher Self. Now, one of the first inescapable implications of this awakening is that we are all part of one another. In the family, we are father and mother as well as the child, the brother or sister as well as the parent. We "improve" our "interpersonal relationships" to the extent that we view the utterances or decisions of another as if we were in fact that other. So is the more complicated area of politics only seemingly far removed from questions of the "Higher Self." [Note: Since you may want to read it after you finish reading this article, I have provided a link to "Our Three Objects" at the end of this one.--Compiler]
Habits of political thinking externalize, while the habits of philosophical thinking internalize. In discussing such a matter as the personality of a president in relation to the events which led towards American entry into World War II, one can well proceed from a certain echo of "Higher Self" psychology which finds expression in American government. The President of the United States, any president, is of course a man with a certain quota of predilections, prejudices, and weaknesses. But he is also elected to high office, and his election, however much chicanery may be conceded to have accomplished it, therefore represents the natural "Karma" of the time, place, and circumstances with which we are all identified. In the instance mentioned, it accomplishes no good at all to criticize what a certain man did with his prerogatives of choice, so long as we consider that man as external to ourselves. If, on the other hand, we criticize his acts as if we, not he, had thought as he did and therefore acted as he did, we can learn something -- because we have replaced the barrenness of criticizing something outside ourselves with searching self-criticism. Would we, for example, given the same problem the president had, now make those same choices today in a comparable situation? Whatever the answer, the result of asking such a question honestly will be a greater clarity of mind within ourselves, a clearer understanding of what opinions in political life to support and which to oppose, of what sort of man to vote for and why.
The first step for the man who cannot immediately overcome the effects of years of political bias is to search for a sympathetic understanding regarding men against whom he has allowed himself to be prejudiced. Just as no mortal acts in perfection, so is it true that some defensible or even idealistic reason may be advanced for the very action or decision we deplore. To find that reason, or series of reasons, is a necessary step in our own education.
COMPILER'S NOTE: The following is a separate item which followed the above article but was on the same page. I felt it was useful to include it here:
HOW TO ENLIGHTEN CONVICTIONS
There is no once-acquired conviction that you should cease to work upon. For, although its basis of truth may be very firm and secure for you, it is wholly worth while to stir up, air, and retemper your conviction and confront it with new aspects of reality and exhibit its strength in new conflicts and carry it with you to explore new lands of thought, new seas of incredulity and doubt, which it can subject to its sway, increasing its greatness. You should corroborate it from within itself by rendering the connection between its component parts stronger and more harmonious.
For if your conviction is a true one, is it not your duty to enter each time further into its truth and to adhere to it as far as possible with stronger assuredness and love? Work, then, upon the conviction thus acquired. Correlate it with new ideas, new experiences, new examples of contradiction, new spectacles from the theater of the world. If your conviction persists and prevails, how much more tried its energy will be! How many more elements will it have conquered, arranging about itself, by its own virtue and efficacy, everything you have brought it in contact with! The firmest conviction will be that which maintains the greatest number of ideas about it and succeeds in uniting them in the most cohesive and concordant relationship.--JOSE E. RODO
Note: In case you want to read it, before going on to the next article in this Department, here's the link to HPB's article, entitled "Our Three Objects", that was mentioned in the above article by the Editors.--Compiler
[Article number (14) in this Department]
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